The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently announced changes to its enforcement guidance in a news release entitled “Department of Labor announces enforcement guidance changes to save lives, target employers who put profit over safety.” One of the major adjustments involves the use of “instance-by-instance citations.”
In the past, OSHA would issue a single citation for a particular violation that occurred multiple times at a workplace. With the new enforcement guidance, OSHA will now issue separate citations for each instance of the violation. This change is designed to provide a clearer picture of the extent of the violation and to hold employers accountable for each instance of non-compliance.
For example, if an employer has 10 employees working without proper personal protective equipment (PPE), OSHA will issue 10 separate citations, one for each employee, instead of one citation for the lack of PPE in general. This allows OSHA to more accurately reflect the severity and extent of the violation and to better target the specific areas of non-compliance.
The new system also increases the frequency of focused inspections, which are targeted inspections of employers who have a pattern of non-compliance with OSHA standards. The increased frequency of focused inspections is intended to provide a greater deterrent to employers who choose to violate OSHA standards. This new guidance covers enforcement in general industry, agriculture, maritime and construction industries and will be effective 60 days from March 27, 2023.
The changes to the enforcement guidance also include an increase in the number of citations and penalties that OSHA can issue to employers who violate standards. The new system also increases the amount of time that OSHA has to investigate and take action against employers who are in violation of OSHA standards.
OSHA’s penalties increase effective January 15, 2023
The maximum amount of penalty for any assessment after January 15, 2023
|Type of violation||Penalty|
|Serious Other-Than-Serious Posting Requirements||$15,625 per violation|
|Failure to Abate||$15,625 per day beyond the abatement date|
|Willful or Repeated||$156,259 per violation|
In conclusion, this change in enforcement guidance is part of OSHA’s efforts to improve worker safety and to hold employers accountable for providing safe working conditions. By issuing instance-by-instance citations, OSHA is able to provide a clearer picture of the extent of the violation and to hold employers accountable for each instance of non-compliance. This will ultimately lead to a healthier, and safer work environment for all employees.
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